Prez race: Cong asks BJP to act with `restrain`

Cong utilised JD(U) snub to BJP on deciding the prez candidate to advise the opposition party to conduct consultations on the issue with dignity.

New Delhi: Congress on Tuesday utilised the JD(U) snub to BJP on deciding the presidential candidate to advise the opposition party to conduct consultations on the issue with "restrain and dignity".

"The reaction of the JD-U should be a reminder to the BJP that consultations and sounding out about the Presidentship need to conducted with restrain and dignity. The august office of President should not be brought in the realm of unnecessary speculation," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

JD-U President Sharad Yadav today distanced his party from BJP leader Sushma Swaraj`s comments that her party will not support names given by Congress and was open to support Abdul Kalam`s candidature, saying it was not JD-U`s views that his party was not consulted on the issue.

Snubbed by its NDA ally, BJP said the views expressed by Swaraj were those of the party and not of the alliance led by it.

With "widest possible consensus" on top of Congress agenda, another party spokesperson Rashid Alvi reacted cautiously to the fissures in NDA over the issue insisting it will be good if there could be consensus on any name.

"We do not want to comment on the reactions given by the allies of NDA. Discussions for the new President are at a very initial stage and it will be really good, if there is consensus on any name," Alvi said.

A senior party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the focus of the party right now is to build a consensus on the issue with allies.

Once allies are on board, efforts will be to forge consensus with parties supporting UPA government from outside and after that the Opposition will be roped in.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi is meeting Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to discuss the issue on May 3. Gandhi has already held deliberations with NCP chief Sharad Pawar here, while Congress sent Defence Minister AK Antony as its emissary to Tamil Nadu last week.